I’ve been gone for a while, sorry! I’m going to get back at it, starting with this review of Office Mix.
This is the most promising education app that Microsoft has released in years. Office Mix lets you turn PowerPoints into interactive presentations with video, audio, and embedded quizzes. It is a great tool for flipping your class, or more specifically, flipping presentations. If you are like me, you’ll have at least one project each year where students present. While you can use tools like Prezi and Haiku deck to get students to make more engaging presentations, students still have to present in class. Often times these presentations are not well-rehearsed or are poorly executed.
Office Mix can help solve this. Students can record “perfect” presentations at home by spending time to hone their presentations before submitting them. Even if this doesn’t replace the actual presentation in class, it gives students time to practice their delivery and get feedback.
Teachers can also benefit a great deal from this tool. We can work on polishing our own presentations, or just pairing them down to the essentials (a series of five 3-minute videos is generally way better than one 15-minute video). We can also embed videos, quizzes, and questions along the way, and the Office Mix site gives great “analytics”:
You can see how much time students spend on each slide, and how many people have viewed the slides.
You can see who viewed the Mix.
You can see their answers to your questions to see what concepts you need to re-teach or work on in class.
Here’s a sample Mix I made:
There is so much more that you can do. I will be making a tutorial of the features, including how to insert video, screenshots, quizzes, etc. and adding it soon!
Although I didn’t get to hang out with Stevie, or even Satya, I had a great day chatting with my fellow educators, tinkering around with all of the free tools Microsoft offers, and learning more about OneNote. While the time spent on Window 8 seemed a little bit out of date – I’m on Windows 10 and since it will revert to an old-style start menu by default I didn’t initially see the point in diving into Live Tiles – but the training itself was very well done.
Here are some of the topics we covered:
Window 8 — After reflecting more, I guess this session was useful for people who are currently using Windows 8, haven’t installed a Start Menu replacement, and don’t anticipate upgrading to Windows 10 when it is released next year. I do like the live tiles a lot for younger students. If your IT staff can bake in the proper shortcuts and groups to their image, it can be a way easier method of navigating for younger students than using the mouse as it allows them to utilize the touch screen to its full extent. In the long run I see most users switching to the “Hybrid” view that Windows 10 has. I can’t imagine many people sticking with the tiles, but I could be wrong.
OneNote — It is awesome and probably the best Microsoft product that only a few people use. When I ask students about OneNote they almost always have not heard of it. That is probably because most of their teachers haven’t either. It’s high time that we start spreading the word! I’m going to do a OneNote training for my colleagues when I get back to school after the break 🙂
21st Century Learning Design — This session was interesting and sparked quite a bit of debate. We looked at a lesson that was submitted to the MS Partners in Learning network and assessed it using the rubric for 21st Century Learning Design (21CLD). The biggest discussion point here was regarding the concept of knowledge construction. What does it really mean to “construct knowledge” during a learning activity? The 21CLD documentation states that:
Knowledge construction activities require students to generate ideas and understandings that are new to them. Students can do this through interpretation, analysis, synthesis, or evaluation. In stronger activities, knowledge construction is the main requirement of the learning activity.(p10)
This definition seemed to be a bit vague to most of us. We felt as though the submission, which had some of the seeds of a great unit, was poorly or incompletely described in the documents we were presented. However, because of this broad definition, we felt that we needed to score this lesson higher on knowledge construction rubric we were using as the framework for evaluating the lesson:
This discussion really stuck with me. It made me go back over some of the documents more closely, where I found this gem:
The main requirement is the part of the activity that students spend the most time and effort on and the part that educators focus on when grading. If the learning activity does not specify how much time students should spend on each part, you may have to use your professional judgment to estimate how long students are likely to spend on different tasks.
If I had seen this at the time then I would have certainly scored the lesson lower. The documents we looked at made it impossible to discern how the students would spend their time during these activities. It also wasn’t really clear what skills the educator would focus on when evaluating the final product. While I do think that the students would spend the majority of their time drafting a “business letter” to the IOC (part of the culminating activity), I don’t think that it is clear how much time this would take or even which student in a given group would be using their research to construct knowledge. If this unit wasn’t well-planned it could easily devolve into a situation where one student does all of the work.
Overall it was a great day! I truly appreciate that Microsoft goes out of their way to provide these training opportunities, and that they are encouraging educators to be leaders. I, for one, feel inspired and ready for Day 2. Thank you to @BeckyKeene and Kim West!
Hey there folks. I’m sorry I haven’t posted in a while but things have been crazy of late. We are in the midst of our second term and new challenge has arisen:
We have a very liberal policy for our lab, and in some ways that has created a new challenge for us. Students have found and fallen in love with Tanki, and online tank simulator. While I’m not against games in any way, our lab looks like a LAN Party from the early 2000’s most days during lunch and students who want to do work are hesitant to enter the lab.
Today we are trying something new. We are going to start directing students to use their “free time” to pursue their interests and try to learn new skills. While I know that gaming is a skill, we’re hoping to transform the lab from something like this:
To something more along the lines of this:
My hope is that students will start looking into developing their non-technical skills as well. This may necessitate purchasing some crafting materials, knitting supplies, etc. but it will be worth it in the long run!
The kids have finally worked out most of the kinks and have the PrintrBot working!
The final challenge was levelling the z-axis, which was loosely attached with zip ties on the initial install. With a bunch of test prints the kids caught their mistakes though and quickly took apart and reassembled the z-axis (the video was made before they fixed it so you may notice that the print isn’t level). I have been impressed with the amount of learning that has taken place in the whole process of building this device. It is super labor-intensive, but a great, hands-on project with the tangible reward of a working 3D printer to show for all of the work.
In my next post I’ll describe how we are going to manage the printers at NWS. I worked closely with the students to devise a system that was fair and manageable, but I’m certain that there will be certain bumps in the road as we roll it out. Stay tuned!
This year has brought about many changes in my professional life, but none have been more challenging than the shift from a Google environment to a Microsoft one. Google just gets it. They have a clear lead in the market and they have the features that teachers want.
To be fair, Microsoft has been slowly updating and easing its services. Students can now download the Office suite for free. This alleviates many of the concerns I’ll outline below, but doesn’t completely remove some of the initial frustrations I’ve felt. Here are some of the issues that I’d like to be addressed in Office 365:
There is no way to embed video files. Why do I need 1TB if I can’t easily embed content? This should be fixed ASAP. I’d love it if OneDrive would generate embed codes for videos and image galleries.
The OneDrive interface is clunky at best. Do you want to move a file into a parent directory? You will need to use Internet Explorer, hit several buttons, wait for an explorer window to open, then wait. Office 365 should a an easy to use navigation pane for dragging and dropping files. It would also be nice if you could simple drag files into their parent directories.
Google has classrooms, Microsoft has Sharepoint. I get it. Microsoft is for business and it wants to break into the education market, but it is going to need to drastically overhaul its ecosystem if it ever intends to stand a chance. Teachers want to be able to share, collaborate with, and collect work from their students and peers. They want to be able to sort shared files. They want to have a place where students can submit work. Microsoft has no solution for this. While their product is great for small groups working on joint projects, it can’t manage a whole class of students. Microsoft needs a product that allows for moderated sharing and collection of documents from individual students. I want a class site with a personal folder for each student that only the teacher and individual student can view.
Microsoft’s online suite isn’t sweet. Yes, it has the look of Office, but it is so stripped down that it borders on useless in many cases. Do you want to use Excel online? Don’t try to change the units on the axes because you can’t. Do you want to track changes in a Word document? Forget about it. While these concerns are very specific I feel that Microsoft’s biggest asset has been its apps. They need to find a way to translate these to the web. If an make and online version of Photoshop then Microsoft can get Excel and Word to work in the cloud.
Third-party apps are scarce. Using Google Apps is easy. If there isn’t a Google solution to your problem there are a host of other apps that will help you. Microsoft’s education offerings are virtually non-existent.
Last, but certainly not least, there is no LMS that offers native integration with OneDrive. This is the real killer for me. I know of only one LMS that is working on this, Canvas, but have not been able to find another.
I’m going to keep trying to innovate and using Office 365 because it does have a ton of potential. In the meantime interested in hearing how other people are using it in their classrooms.
I’m so excited! This week we received our first two 3D printers. We went with two different models:
1. MakerBot Replicator
2. PrintrBot Maker Simple (Kit)
I’m excited about both models. The MakerBot was so simple to use that we were able to make our first print within 45 minutes of opening the box. Although printing was fun, the PrintrBot kit has been far more rewarding. When it came in I told our interest group, and within the first few hours I had a crowd of students at my desk. They had me print out the assembly instructions, then started searching around campus for the tools they were going to need. Later that day they started assembling the machine in shifts. It is an ongoing process, but I feel like it is far more meaningful than our experience with the MakerBot so far. Although the prints will eventually be smaller, and the machine is only made from laser-cut wood, it is giving them the ability to understand how the machine actually works. They are working in a team and building the printer by following a complex set of instructions. These are skills that they will need in the future, and they are developing them by pursuing their own interests.
It seems like our printers are going to be in high demand. In our next EdTech Committee meeting we’ll need to discuss:
How we will monitor and support the use of the printers
Our overall capacity for printing – how many printers do we need?
It’s been a few days since my last update, but I finally have a few free moments to add my reflection on how our scavenger hunt went last week. Overall, I’d call the experience a rousing success. There were several elements of the GooseChase that were important to know in terms of planning, so I’ll try to cover them here. First, I’m going to explain in detail how to set up a GooseChase. After that I’ll give my feedback on the process and some tips that you may want to use when planning your scavenger hunt.
I: Setting up a GooseChase
Setting up a GooseChase is pretty easy, but will involve some coordination on the part of the teacher.
To set up the game you can follow the steps in the guide I’ve made below. Read more...Close
Setting Up a GooseChase Scavenger Hunt
This tutorial will show you how to set up a scavenger hunt in the real world using the mobile app GooseChase. A key thing to keep in mind here is that you’ll be limited to 10 groups unless you pay for more members.
1. Create an account or sign in to GooseChase
2. Upon signing in you’ll see the “My Games” screen. Click on “New Game”
3. Enter details for your game, then click “Save & Continue”
1. Give the game a name.
2. Describe the game objectives, etc.
3. You can password protect the game – this will make sure that only your students have access to the game
4. You can also specify the location of the game.
5. Click “Save & Continue” when you are done.
4. This is your mission list
1. “GooseChase Mission Bank” lets you choose from a ton of pre-configured, generic missions to assign.
2. “My Mission Bank” lets you choose from missions you’ve created in the past
3. This is where you create your missions.
4.1 Create a mission
1. Enter a mission name.
2. Give the description – this is the task you’d like your students to complete.
3. Assign a point value
Additional Details will let you add links and images to the missions
4. Click “Add Mission” if you are ready to move on, or “Additional Details” if you want to add a link or picture.
4.2 This is the additional details screen. Click “Add Mission” when you are done.
4.3 When you are done adding additional details, click “Add Mission”
5. The new mission will show up in your mission list.
5.1 This is the GooseChase Mission Bank
There are some great ideas for potential missions here. To add a mission, scroll over it.
5.2 Click the plus icon to add the mission to your mission list
5.3 Click the trash can icon to delete a mission
5.4 This is the list of my previous missions
6. Click on “Start & Stop” when you are ready to get your game underway
7. Configure your Start/Stop times or invite people
1. Choose a method – either manual or automatic – to start your game
2. If you choose “Manual” enter a duration and click “Start Game” *Note, the clock will start automatically!
3. Before starting the game you will want students to download the app to their Android/iPhone device
They should make an account
Their user-name is their team name
They can search for your game by name
4. You can invite students via email if it’s easier
7.1 The automatic Start/Stop Method
Specify the start and end times. The game will start and end automatically this way.
8. In-Game Features
Once the game is underway, you will focus on the In-Game tabs.
9. The activity tab will constantly update as students submit images
9.1 Sample “Activity Feed”, click on an image or the gear in the lower right-hand corner to add a bonus or delete the photo
9.2 Gear options
9.3 Full view options
You can also easily share an image if all of the students have signed media waivers
10. The leader-board will show you who is in the lead
You can also adjust points manually here.
10.1 Sample “Leaderboard”
11. The “Photos” tab will let you group images by mission, user points, or alphabetically by team
11.1 Here are the options for grouping the photos
11.2 This is what the photos will look like when they are grouped.
The second – and perhaps more important – consideration is the logistics during the game. How will students be grouped? Where will the students go during the game? I highly recommend that you involve parents and or volunteers when running the game. This helps in several ways:
You will need someone to monitor the feed as the students complete the missions. This will ensure that they are taking appropriate images and that the images are the ones you asked for. If you want to do this yourself you’ll miss out on a lot of the fun, but will get to watch the activity in real time.
You may want to put a parent or volunteer with each group. This can be especially helpful if the activity will take place in public or off campus. Depending on the age of your students, this may be necessary.
You can use parents or volunteers to help you by serving as judges. When all of the pictures are collected you may want to have them go through and award bonus points for especially creative pictures or inclusive groups.
Overall, this was a great app and the students enjoyed the activity a great deal. They ran all around campus and our neighborhood, had to include everyone in their groups, and were very creative. One thing that was poorly planned on my part was my level of direct involvement with students. I thought that I’d be able to keep track of the score, photos, and bonus points while working with a group, but this was impossible. The mobile app doesn’t really have a way for the activity leader/coordinator to manage the game while in the field. When we do this again I’ll get a parent or volunteer to help with this.
Another issue that came up in our group was competitiveness. Some of the students took the scoring and leader-board extremely seriously. There were times where it wasn’t 100% clear what was worth points for a specific mission. For instance if it says take a picture in front of “X” but doesn’t specify that member need to be in the picture. Do you give points for that? If students are creative and go above and beyond, how many bonus points do you give? Some of these decisions were pretty subjective, and to make this easier I will be more specific in my mission instructions next time.
GooseChase is a great app. I recommend that you try it with your class!
I’m excited for tomorrow! Last week a team of teachers approached me with a problem. For the past few years they have been doing a scavenger hunt around the school and neighborhood to get students acquainted with our faculty and surroundings. They have always split the students up into groups and given them a list of places to take photos as well as actions to complete along the way. One of the biggest challenges they have faced has been collecting and organizing the images from students.
They wanted me to give them some advice, and were hoping that I’d have a quick tech solution for their situation. My hope was that I’d be able to find a good way for them to gather and organize their photos. In other words, I approached this by first starting small. I wasn’t sure what I’d find and with the relative time-crunch I didn’t want to aim too big. This initial search led me to the site DropEvent.
DropEvent is a great site that lets you create an event, share it via email and then collect and even moderate images. This sounded like it ticked off most of the boxes in their checklist. It creates a central place where users can email their photos and allows for moderation, captioning and even downloading of the images. It also provides a free account for 6 months, which is plenty of time to access and download the photos for longer-term storage.
It also has a pretty simple interface, which lessens the learning curve a great deal:
Students drop photos in this event by emailing them to event-specific email address that is generated when you create the event. This allows them to send files from any internet connected device, while the teacher (or student!) can view and later download them from the web interface. Once inside the event it is relatively easy to moderate. The approval process looks like this:
All-in-all, DropEvent seems like a great option for some activities. However, I wasn’t fully satisfied with the workflow. What’s more, I felt that it wasn’t really a higher-order use of technology. It felt as though there had to be something better out there; something that would be more interactive, fun, and exciting.
My goal for this year (as I mentioned in an earlier post on SAMR) is to try to help teachers create activities that redefine how they use technology in their classrooms. This often entails reimagining the activity itself. In the case of this scavenger hunt that meant a few things had to me modified:
Previously the students completed the tasks in order. The tasks were numbered and groups of students completed them more or less sequentially. Each region around school had a few tasks associated with it, so areas of school were crowded for a short time then empty. This seriously limited the students’ ability act independently or spontaneously.
One teacher had to do a huge amount of the work. The students would email one teacher with their images and he would try to create captions and folders to organize the images. This put a lot of the work on one person’s shoulders, and slowed down the processing time.
Instructions had to be pretty specific. I like the idea of having open-ended activities that give students the ability to improvise, have fun, and be creative. I wanted an app that untethered students from the task sheet and turned this activity into more of a game.
With these considerations in mind I discovered the world of scavenger apps. First I found Scavify (@Scavify) and it looked flashy, fully-featured, and device agnostic. It had a great looking site and a ton of great features. It uses your phone (Android or iPhone) to track participants progress, and seemed to be a polished and highly usable option when I first signed up.
The only problem, and it’s a big one, is that the site costs $2 per user and doesn’t offer a free version. This will certainly raise a few eyebrows in the educator community and definitely will deter most of my fellow educators from using it. If you have the money, it does look great and would be an awesome option.
Enter GooseChase (@GooseChase). I can’t begin to express how excited I am about this site!!! GooseChase has everything I was looking for and is free for personal use – up to ten groups. The interface is slick, it is device agnostic (Android and iPhone), and it turns a typical scavenger hunt into a gun game that others can watch in real-time. In this post I’m going to give an overview of how we set it up, how it works, and how it’ll make our scavenger hunt more fun than ever. In my next post I’ll go over how the hunt went, any challenges we face, our highlights, and student feedback.
Creating a game in GooseChase is easy. After you sign up for an account you will have the option to create a new game. Here is a brief overview of how we created the game:
Tomorrow we’ll be playing this game with our students. I’m so excited. I’ll update this tomorrow to let you know how it goes. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions please feel free to reply below.